Apollo, by Brian Eno
Suggested by Mik Parkin
In space, no one can hear you scream.
After sitting through Apollo, I felt like screaming.
We’ve got two young cats in our house. They’re full of energy, constantly honing round without a care in the world, scrabbling up this and down that, snuffling and mewing and generally being incredible.
We live in a terraced house, with the tiniest of front gardens. Literally, it’s a step down and we’re done. There’s a nice double-glazed bay window, about a foot of miscellaneous space, then a wall, then the pavement. The road is quiet, but the wind blows and the rain falls.
We own a fridge freezer. There are two computers in our living room, running 24/7, and there’s consistently idling PS4 under the TV (which is standing by).
My iPhone is on my desk, by my laptop and speakers. It sometimes clucks with interference, as they all do.
Why am I mentioning such unconnected trivia?
The vast majority of Apollo isn’t really music, at least as I’d classify it for this project. It’s an ambient scoundscape more than anything, which is fair, because it pretty much says that on the tin. It’s themed around space flight, with “song” titles such as Under Stars and Weightless. For the first twenty minutes or so, Apollo takes the dictionary definition of SPARSE, takes out three of the letters, writes each remaining letter an a separate sheet of A4, puts each sheet in a taxi, drives them around eighty miles apart, then staple-guns each to a telegraph pole.
This music is isn’t just sparse, it’s SPRS.
It took me three full minutes before I realised the album had started.
As I listened, I really strained to hear it. Because it was accompanied by the background noise of my life. My kittens kittened, the rain fell and wind blew. My fridge froze, my electronics hummed, and everything was so gently innocuous I was unsure if it wasn’t all and intended part of the picture.
Round about track 8, things picked up a little with my choice for best noises: Silver Morning. I enjoyed this, because it actually was a thing, rather than indistinct whale song against a whispering hummingbird backing track. This was followed by two more songs that were also things, before the gentle swish of donning nylon became the resounding fugue once more.
This album is lauded as being very special. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. Maybe in another time, or frame of mind, I’d have been more receptive, but as it stands it gets 2/10 from me.